27th March 2014
On Thursday 27th March, anti-nuclear activists will be giving out the following flyer outside the Institute of Civil Engineers building, at 1 Great George St., SW1P, from 8.30 till 9.30, where the nuclear industry will be holding another in its long series of conferences on their dream of nuclear new build. Amongst those
expected are EDF, Nugen, construction companies, Michael Fallon and others.
This is the text of the leaflet which will be handed out to those who are going in to the conference:-
What’s wrong with nuclear?
We are here today to warn the Institute of Civil Engineers and today’s conference participants against making a horrendous mistake. Just at the time when solar and wind power generation become cheaper than nuclear, they push on with outmoded, expensive,potentially deadly use of uranium to boil water. Which even Einstein warned against, saying “Nuclear power is one hell of a way to boil water!”
The English taxpayers just guaranteed a fixed price of £92.50 Mwh to the French
state-owned power arm, EDF, fixed for 35 years, tied to inflation (CPI). Thus this could well be over £100 Mwh by the time Hinkley Point starts generating. Plus loan guarantees of £10 billion. This compares with on-shore wind being offered £90 Mwh for just 15 years and no loan guarantees. As argued in Dave Toke’s blog, (1), (an energy research fellow at the University of Warwick): ‘If Hinkley C didn’t receive the loan guarantees, the required strike price for nuclear would be gargantuan, and if wind power got the loan guarantees and a longer contract during which the strike price is payable for units of electricity generated then the amount of money required for the wind power would be a lot less than £90 per MWh. And in reality the cost of offshore wind would be competitive with nuclear as well if these other support measures are taken into account.’ He goes on to say ‘Then there is solar power, which will receive £100 per MWh from 2018, and this will be less than Hinkley C, especially when the longer contract and loan guarantee support for Hinkley C (which solar doesn’t get) are taken into account. Indeed the Solar Trade Association asked for £91 per MWh from 2018 for large solar arrays on account of continued falling prices. Continued falling prices, note, not continued upward prices as in the case of nuclear power!
Pretty darn clear!! In 2013, 4 nuclear power stations were closed for technical or economic reasons. These were San Onofre 2 and 3 in California, Crystal River 3 in Florida, and Kewaunee in Wisconsin. (2) 2 more are in question. The state of Vermont is trying to close Vermont Yankee, in Vernon. New York State is seeking to close Indian Point in Buchanan, 30 miles from New York City. This technology has nowhere been built without massive state subsidies, in spite of being a mature industry, around for over 50 years. It relies on the taxpayer being on the hook for most of the price of any cleanup, (anything above £140 million in the UK) and for dealing with, storing and guarding the waste produced. If realistic insurance prices were paid by the nuclear industry itself, it is estimated that the required strike price for nuclear would be over £200 Mwh.
And on top of this comes the problem of the waste, of the burnt-up, highly radioactive fuel. In its time nuclear power has produced about 140,000 metric tons of heavy metal waste, of which it has processed about 45,000 tons. The industry has constantly claimed that in another decade or so it will come up with a safe geological deposit or dump for this waste. But as an engineer should know, there is no such thing as a safe, permanent geological deposit facility on a tectonically active planet. Any hole-in-the-ground will be intruded on, squeezed around, cracked, if the whole crust of the planet is constantly moving around and the continents changing shape in the time frames for which this isolation is needed.
Anyway, don’t try and use the global warming argument to justify this obscene waste of money. To have an effect on global warming, we would have to get maybe 20% of our electricity from nuclear. Which would involve replacing the current 400 or so and building 1600 more. Which would involve opening 2 a week for twenty years. Which is not going to happen!! Especially when solar can be put in place in two years, is cheaper, and produces no culture-changing event like Fukushima or Chernobyl.
The central tenet of your industry has always been that you would keep the radioactive elements separated from the environment. You have signally and regularly failed in that endeavour, averaging a melt-down every 7 years. Wikipedia lists 22, which would average out at a meltdown every 2 ½ years. Not good. And what’s this little ‘puff’ of plutonium from your Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico? You promised you’d never set plutonium free into the environment. Ceiling collapsed after 15 years; meant to be safe for 10,000 years. Not good…
About 44.5 gigawatts of solar will be added globally this year (3). That’s equivalent to 10 nuclear power stations. Lets use the fusion reactor provided for us at a nice safe distance of some 93 million miles. The Sun.
(3). Bloomberg, 26th Feb. 2014